Last month’s Rail and Underground panel featured an interesting short report that broke down London Overground usage and ridership. It included a look at the East London Line figures since its reopening.

We looked in some detail at the Overground back in the summer, with a short series exploring both its past and its future. Nonetheless, the report presented to the Panel is worth spending some time on, as it provides an interesting insight into some of the numbers (and passengers) behind the various lines that make up the Overground. Beyond this it also gives us a further idea as to what the future may hold for London’s Orbital, particularly when taken alongside the excellent London Extensions Special in this month’s issue of Modern Railways.

An East London Numbers Game

Before looking to the future, however, we should look at the past – the recent numbers on the Overground. Here, the headline figure is clear – and it’s one that TfL have not been afraid so far to trumpet: the East London Line now carries 0.6m passengers per week. According to the report, that’s 3.5 times as many as the pre-closure ELL and indeed double the volume of usage in June 2010.

Of course it’s worth remembering that the original ELL was a much smaller beast. When it closed in 2007 it was operating between Whitechapel and New Cross/New Cross Gate, having been shortened back from Shoreditch in 2006. That year, it carried 9m passengers. Today, the ELL runs from Highbury & Islington in the North down to New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon. It carried 16m passengers in the year up to May 2011 and is on course to carry 38m passengers in 2011/2012. Much of that increase is down to the ELL Extension. According to the report, 23m passengers have travelled on the extension so far, with demand having doubled since its opening.

Indeed the breakdown of journeys and destinations on the ELL makes interesting reading. Canada Water (30,000 passengers a day) and Whitechapel (15,000 a day) lead the passenger figures, with Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate just behind Whitechapel on 12,000 passengers. The implications are clear: the ELL has become a path to interchange with other services – particularly the Jubilee – and a key service for commuters who now make up 60% of passengers, which is comparible to London Underground. That can clearly be seen in the graph below:

ELL Average Passengers

ELL Average Passenger Numbers

It’s also interesting to look at how demand at key stations on the core has changed in comparison with 2007. Again, it’s the interchanges that have seen traffic climb most quickly. The section of line between Canada Water and New Cross Gate is now the most used section of the line, with 50,000 passengers a day using it in both directions.

ELL Demand: 2007 vs 2011

ELL Demand: 2007 vs 2011

Switching Modes

The report also includes a look at precisely where the new ELL appears to have extracted its passengers from.

Modes Used before the ELL Reopened

Modes Used before the ELL Reopened

As can be seen above, the largest switch has been from the rail network at the southern end of the line. What’s interesting to note, however, is that almost 10% of the ELL’s new passengers have switched from using cars. The switch from buses – mostly at the northern end of the line between Dalston and Highbury & Islington – is also notable, and it seems likely that we’ll likely see a review of London Bus services there as a result.

Widening the Scope

Moving beyond the ELL’s numbers, the report also provides a nice overview of how demand has changed on the rest of the Overground network. The graph below shows just how striking this growth is, even if the ELL’s reopening is excluded.

Growth in Overground Demand

Growth in Overground Demand

Since 2009, demand on the Overground network (excluding the ELL) has increased by an average of 1.5 million journeys per month, with – as we saw above – the ELL continuing to add to that trend. Passenger volumes are now two and a half times what they were when Silverlink held the Franchise, with demand increasing over 80%.

The report includes a waterfall diagram that, based on survey responses, attempts to show what the primary motivators have been for new passengers during this period.

Overground Growth Drivers

Overground Growth Drivers

As can be seen, they seem to demonstrate that the general increased demand for rail travel in London and the South East is only a small part of the story – just as important have been the three basic principles on which the original Overground principle was pitched. This was that a good metro service should be clean, reliable and frequent – get that right and the passengers will follow.

Indeed it’s the frequency improvements that seem to have had the most impact. This is largely due to the fact that all the Overground lines now (at the very least in peaks) have broken through the magical “turn up and go” point – a service every 15mins. Past this point, passenger confidence and usage increases as users start treating the service as a regular metro and, to a certain extent, stop being too worried about catching particular services or checking the timetable.

The emphasis on maintaining this service level is perhaps no surprise, as current RfL COO Howard Smith (London’s Prince of Orange, if you will pardon the pub) is a confessed proponent of the importance of service frequency and reliability, particularly in relation to service growth and the positive impact rail can have on an area.

“For some reason it doesn’t matter if an area has buses every two minutes,” He commented on the subject when we visited the ELLX2 site back in July, “People still feel disconnected – as if that service could be taken away at any time. Stick some track down and put a train on it every 15 minutes though and they’ll start using it.”

“There’s something special about the Permanent Way that feels so… well… permanent.”

Who Do We Think They Are

As with the ELL, it is also interesting to see where the Overground has generally gained its extra passengers from. Here, even more than on the ELL, it is from the buses that many of the new passengers have come.

Modes Previously Used by Overground Passengers

Modes Previously Used by Overground Passengers

Finally, the report includes a nice pie chart breaking down Overground usage across all lines by journey type.

Reasons For Travelling on the Overground

Reasons For Travelling on the Overground

Worth noting is that the Overground does indeed present a general passenger profile more similar to an Underground Line than a National Rail Line, which – when taken with the average journey distance of 7km – seems to suggest that putting longitudinal seating in the 378s was on balance the correct decision to take. What’s also interesting to note, however, is that it also has, relatively speaking, a higher amount of educational usage than most comparable lines. Given the shift from buses to Overground, this would seem to suggest – as the report notes – that the Overground has become a route well-used by school children. This would help to explain why the line, anecdotally speaking, appears to have a longer rush-hour spread than most other lines (something the report also aludes to, but sadly doesn’t have figures on).

Beating the Crush

All these statistics are important, of course, not just because they seem to demonstrate that the approach taken with the Overground so far has been a success, but also because they highlight that problems of capacity are very likely to occur sooner rather than later.

Indeed the report contains an updated version of the capacity level infographic that TfL submitted as part of their HLOS2 response. We featured that infographic in our previous Overground series, where it highlighted that TfL were anticipating serious overcrowding on the Overground by 2020 on areas in the West, South and North. The infographic in the Rail & Underground Panel report is almost exactly the same, highlighting the same issues of capacity. What’s striking, however, is the date it carries – according to this updated graphic those crush levels are now likely to occur by 2016.

Forecast Overground Passenger Levels in 2016

Forecast Overground Passenger Levels in 2016

RfL and TfL, therefore, clearly can’t afford to sit on their laurels, as overcrowding is certainly not a far-future problem. Indeed as the report notes, North London Line passenger usage is already beginning to approach crush levels again, and the section of the ELL between Canada Water and New Cross Gate is also very busy in the morning peaks.

Luckily, it appears that various initiatives are already being planned here (some of which are covered nicely in this month’s edition of Modern Railways).

The Question of Rolling Stock

Firstly, and most importantly, the process of expanding the 378s to include a fifth car seems now to be accepted as a “must do,” with Howard Smith indicating in Modern Railways that this may happen sometime around 2013/2014. This will no doubt come as good news to the Bombardier works at Derby, were such work would have to take place. It will mean, however, selective door opening at a number of stations. The new staggered platform at Clapham Junction for ELLX2 is being built big enough for 5-car services, but various existing stations aren’t – as can be seen from the graphic below (taken from the HLOS2 response). Perhaps crucially, thanks to the short-sightedness of the Jubilee Line Extension planners (or rather their accountants), one of the stations where SDO would be required is Canada Water.

Platform Lengthening and SDO on the Overground

Platform Lengthening and SDO on the Overground

As it stands, it seems likely that we may see 5-car services, with some platform lengthening and some SDO, on the NLL, WLL, SLL and ELL sooner rather than later, with perhaps the Watford – Euston services remaining 4-car until that process is complete. Moving beyond 5-car 378s will be tricky as they were always designed to be lengthened from 3 to 4, then to 5-cars, but not beyond, and 6-car services would also require further platform works and make SDO at some stations simply impractical. With hindsight this 5-car limitation (on both stock and platform) may seem shortsighted, but it’s worth remembering that when the original suggestion of planning for an eventual 8-car service was ruled out by the Strategic Rail Authority there was little to suggest that the Overground as a whole would prove to be the success it has been. Indeed the costs of the project if the scope had been that large may effectively have prevented it from being carried out at all.

It is, of course, worth remembering that its not just 378s that run on the Overground. 2-car 172s populate the GOBLIN and could, theoretically, be expanded. As Modern Railways rightly points out, however, RfL and TfL face a tricky political issue here in balancing current passenger need with approval for future projects – TfL have long argued for the electrification of the GOBLIN and, pragmatically speaking, the extension of the 172s may be seen in some quarters as an opportunity to delay that from happening even longer.

Service Frequencies

Beyond rolling stock changes, its clear that once again the issue of freight on the NLL is going to be a key battleground moving into 2012 and beyond. Here, there are some potential lights at the end of the tunnel, but we will cover this in a future post more focused on London’s freight issues in general.

There does seem to be some good news, however, for those looking for service increases elsewhere. Smith had suggested back in July that RfL was exploring the possibility of bringing the extra four ELLX2 services in early. The December 2011 timetable has four more paths for services between Highbury & Islington and Clapham Junction on the ELL, but the original plan had been not to introduce these until the end of 2012 when ELLX2 would be completed. Instead, Modern Railways confirms that these will now be introduced from this month onwards as PIXC-busters (Passengers in eXcess of Capacity) during the ELL peak. An additional PIXC-buster is also being planned for the WLL, paths allowing, and RfL are apparently also exploring the possibility of running the “spare” 172 on the GOBLIN as a PIXC-buster as well.

All of the above obviously comes with an associated risk – those extra services require pushing extra units into service thus placing a lot more pressure on the rolling stock maintenance regimes. If they work, however, then passengers will no doubt be grateful.

Summing it all Up

Overall, therefore, the Report presents an interesting insight into just what’s happening on the Overground, as well as a warning as to some major issues that appear to be lurking just round the corner. Five years is practically tomorrow in railway terms, something that politicians and the media often seem to forget. Both RfL and TfL, however, do seem to have at least acknowledged that these problems exist, and thus it is to be hoped that with careful management and expansion the Overground can be nursed well into – and through – a tricky adolescence.

Those who find themselves on – but currently not served – by the existing Lines would do well to note, however, that realistically speaking there seems little practical likelihood of TfL agreeing to have more stations upon them, even if they are currently too polite to explicitly say it. Just as any effort to re-open York Road on the Piccadilly Line is quietly, but firmly, batted aside due to the extra passenger (and timetable) pressure it would place upon the line, similar efforts with regards to Overground stations are likely to have the same result. Surrey Canal Road may now be happening, but the likes of Primrose Hill and St Quintin Park & Wormwood Scrubs will most likely exist only within aspirational developer and council plans, or the pages of local papers, for some time to come.

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There are 80 comments on this article
  1. Richard says:

    I think the Forecast Overground Passenger Levels are a bit of an underestimate. I’ve used the Gospel Oak-Barking Line many times and it’s often been far more crowded than 2-3 passengers per m2 of standing space.

  2. 1956 says:

    On the “Platform Lengthening and SDO on the Overground” graphic, it shows ELL direct services to and from Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction via the new ELLX2 (Wandsworth Road etc). This is alongside the current direct services to West Croydon. The services terminating at Dalston Junction are shown as New Cross (as at present) and Crystal Palace (a change from the current pattern, as currently the Crystal Palace trains run through to Highbury & Islington).

    I thought the services along the new ELLX2 were to terminate at Dalston Junction so has there been a change in plans? I have no objections if there has been. However signage / information at Highbury & Islington (& Canonbury) will need to be clear, as both those stations are also served by North London line trains going to Clapham Junction via Camden Road & Willesden Junction.

  3. Fandroid says:

    1956. Hurrummpphh! To solve the potential confusion at Highbury & Islington, perhaps the Overground should do something as revolutionary (=banal) as numbering its services! They inherited three distinct services from Silverlink. Now they plan eight! Commuters soon get to know where they are going, but imagine all those Olympic crowds wandering around staring at their incomprehensible London Rail Services maps.

  4. Anonymous says:

    LO is going to need a fair bit of major surgery from next decade if it is to meet demand. An increase of one-car is barely going to absorb the needs of the middle of this decade going by that report. Either freight is removed or certain sections get quad-tracked and/or tunneled. All those potential interchanges on the central line (twice) both Northern branches, etc are a pipe-dream until frequencies are ramped up hugely.

  5. Pedantic says:

    “Perhaps crucially, thanks to the short-sightedness of the Jubilee Line Extension planners (or rather their accountants), one of the stations where SDO would be required is Canada Water.”

    Normally I would be the first to criticise lack of foresight in planning decisions. However this comment rather oversimplifies things. The problem is that Canada Water lies between Surreys Quays station which is just below ground level and Rotherhithe which is immediately before the mouth of Brunel’s tunnel under the Thames and hence its platforms are at a considerable depth. Indeed Rotherhithe and Wapping were probably the deepest two sub-surface stations on the Underground. Surrey Quays, Canada Water and Rotherhithe stations are very close to each other. Given the requirement for all new platforms to be level it was difficult enough to build a four-car platform. At the time the likelihood of longer trains running on the East London line was not that great. The cost of building a longer platform would have probably been difficult to justify. And if they did build it longer then how much longer ? At the time the only 5-car electric multiple units I am aware of were the class 442 – everything else was 2-car or 4-car so it would have needed considerable powers of predicting the future to suggest that the platforms should be 5-cars long. Also, at the time Selective Door Operation was not as common as it is now, it it existed at all. What would have been the point of building Canada Water for 5-cars if Rotherhithe and Wapping could only take 4 ?

    I suspect in reality the only compliant way to make the platform longer at Canada Water would be to close Rotherhithe, extend the platforms northwards at Canada Water and re-profile the gradient from the platforms to the Thames Tunnel mouth. One dreads to think how long one would have to close the line to do such a thing – assuming it were possible. One reason for not doing this from the outset is that it was thought desirable (especially by Ken Livingstone) to keep Rotherhithe open if at all possible and for as long as possible. The direct distance between the two stations may be small but the approach to the Rotherhithe Tunnel bisects it so Rotherhithe station does continue to serve a useful purpose. Alternatively, should it be absolutely necessary at some point in the future to extend the platforms at Canada Water, the best hope is in obtaining a derogation from the requirement for the platforms to be level.

  6. Strawbrick says:

    Rather than introducing a 5th car and so having to lengthen and / or have SDO, would it not be easier to build some extra complete trains and so increase the frequency? Perhaps as 2 car units which could be run solo at times of low demand and coupled together at peak times? Please don’t tell me that the system is already running at maximum tph.)

    I agree with Fandroid that LOL needs to name / number the lines!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Surely the Primrose Hill extention will look incresingly attractive as Euston redevelopment approaches.

  8. Greg Tingey says:

    Platforms “must” be level?
    Who says?
    Plenty are not.
    Just extend CW, and be done with it – whilst getting an “exemption” – problem solved.

    As for the much more vexatious question of loadings, I have some knowledge of this – now working part-time (I’m over 65) for a company that conducts surveys.
    The ELL units were calibrated by our people doing a long series of counts, and the numbers being matched to the self-weighing apparatus fitted to the trains.
    So the loading on them will be reasonably accurate (& scary at times) – so yes – more trains/caoches needed, and soon.
    GOBLIN is desperately overloaded in the AM peak Westbound, and presumably Eastbound in the evening. I have personally noted 156 people in ONE COACH of such at train between Walthamstow Midland and Blackhorse road ( 64 seats). So four-coach electrification is needed, and soon, as well as (please?) the rebuild/reconstruction of the remaining weak bridge (20 mph limit) where the line crosses the original course of the river Lea.

    Tend to agree with Anon @ 02.49 …
    Primrose Hill re-opening whilst/before Euston rebuild.
    Indeed a re-casting of the N-across (so to speak) services will be needed, and, probably new trackwork/points at GO, with a North-side platform, because the single-track dead-end turnarounds, at both termini of the present service are very constraining.
    With electrification, one could see (say) a Grays/Upminster/Barking/Willesden Jn LL service

  9. Fandroid says:

    Pedantic. You are right in mentioning that the Class 442 emus were the only 5 car sets around when the JLE was planned. Even if their example might have been considered at the time, it has also to be remembered that they were based on BR MK3 coaches, and each class 442 coach is 23 metres long. 5 x 23m fits the world of the third rail system, as when doubled up to 10 coaches for peak loadings, they are roughly similar in total length (and platform requirements) to the 12 coach trains made up of 20 metre coaches. That’s the way the Desiro class 444s (5×23) and 450s (4×20) happily operate on SW Trains. So anyone thinking 5 coaches for the ELL platforms at Canada Water would have had his/her sanity questioned.

  10. timbeau says:

    The LBSC “Overhead Electric” sets, and the Brighton Belle units, were the only others I can recall having been built as 5-car: although several 6-car types have operated as five-car from time to time, for example when the Pullman cars were removed from the 6PULS during the war, and the Trans-Pennine diesel sets after the buffet cars were withdrawn.

  11. THC says:

    Good article. Your point in the final paragraph about the potential for reopening stations at Primrose Hill and North Pole (St QP &WS) deserves further examination, however, particularly in the latter case. Isn’t this, after all, the place where EMUs stop to switch from overhead to third-rail? As such, there is already a wait of up to 2 minutes built into the timetable. Rather than spend millions at Shepherd’s Bush on i) extending OHLE south once the H&C is resignalled and ii) providing a turnback facility, why not invest that money in providing a basic station at the North Pole changeover point? It’s in an area that is poorly served by rail and such a station would allow deeper penetration with existing capacity.

  12. M says:

    These magazine-style articles are a good read, but could we have a few more “building works update” posts please? There’s lots of work going on at the moment e.g. Thameslink/Blackfriars, Vauxhall, Waterloo, Kings X, ELLX2 that could make for some good picture articles.

  13. Stephenc says:

    Given the constraints at Canada Water and the general overcrowding of the Jubilee in general, the solutions of a 5th/6th car and more tph only solve some of the problems there. Perhaps it might be worth considering a different approach.

    What if the DLR were extended instead? A new line via Wood Wharf (already listed as a possible future extension), then via South Quay and under/over the Thames (bridge already suggested) and on to Surrey Quays. That way, lots of Wharf commuters would interchange at Surrey Quays to DLR. Rough Map for discussion. (Obviously, there is then the potential to extend further, such as through the Old Kent Road developments to Elephant, or on to Peckham town centre, or perhaps to takeover the New Cross LO branch.)

  14. Belsize Parker says:

    Was it my imagination, or did a late-running WLL unit switch from overhead to third-rail traction without stopping at Wormwood Scrubs the other day?

    Certainly think that the NLL-via-Primrose Hill (or better still integrated “The Roundhouse” i/c with Chalk Farm station?) option should be explored, even if HS2 never goes anywhere near Euston, which seems increasingly likely to be the case, given the power of the Chiltern nimbys…

  15. Fandroid says:

    Having already let my hobby-horses out for a run, it’s time to comment on the article!

    It’s great to see the Overground causing such a substantial shift from car use, and also to some degree from buses. It just goes to show that Howard Smith’s faith in frequency and a permanent way has been mightily justified. However, the ‘victim of its own success’ syndrome is alive and well in London, and is an obstacle in the way of getting even more out of the total TfL rail system. All those very desirable interchanges and new stations are just impossible to squeeze in now that the Underground/Overground assets are being sweated to stuff in every last passenger. Some slack is needed to make system improvements possible. Crossrail/Thameslink may provide a bit of space in the short term, but both will be operational in a relatively short time period, and plans for enhancements elsewhere will need a decent lead-time before they can be realised. So TfL needs to be shoving those network improvements on to the drawing board and seriously getting on with the next high capacity tunnel through London – ie Crossrail 2. The demand is demonstrably there, it’s just been suppressed by an inadequate network (and a lack of oysters!) up to now.

  16. MJG says:

    Am I right in thinking that the ‘PIXC Busters’ on the ELL will only run for the next 12 months? Presumably the 5 car units will be in service by then to take up the slack when they are withdrawn? I hadn’t realised the line south of NXG could cope with another 4tph, but if it can surely the long term solution is to keep these ‘Busters’ permanently in the timetable?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is this need for line names or numbers a north London thing?

    There are three different lines from Victoria to Sutton taking differing lengths of time yet there is no problem of people accidentally getting the wrong train. Similarly Blackfriars to Sutton. The Waterloo loop via Kingston and the one via Hounslow. London Bridge to Dartford several ways.

    Two different routes from Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction and it suddenly becomes a problem that needs a solution that the railways have not needed anywhere else.

  18. Kit Green says:

    Even after privatisation the ex Southern Region area pocket timetables included train headcodes, so in effect route numbers were in use for many years. When the Electrostars appeared on South Eastern they still showed the route number on the destination display but this stopped some years ago. On Southern Electrostars there was an unhelpful bad habit of showing most route most codes as 00.

  19. Fandroid says:

    Anonymous. There was an almighty row when headcodes were no longer displayed on BR Southern Region. Their existence meant that practised commuters could just glance at the front of the oncoming train to be confident that it was theirs, and not have to listen out for incomprehensible announcements or rely on very dubious wooden boards stuck in slots on the nearest wall. I still have to be mightily alert to ensure that when I want to go to Woking, the incoming fast service heading for Waterloo is actually going to stop there. Better displays and announcements have improved life a lot, but for strangers to London’s part of the National Rail system, the complexities are almost certainly completely off-putting. How many tourists venture onto the multiple choice lines you mention? Line numbering is commonplace elsewhere, why does London have to be so flaming awkward? If Tramlink can number its routes (not to mention the buses!), I cannot see why it is such difficult thing for the Overground.

  20. Chris M says:

    Re Canada Water/Rotherhithe, is there a reason why a Crossrail-style double station solution couldn’t be used? Assuming the need to reprofile gradients anyway, why not build platforms along the whole stretch and have entrances at both ends?

  21. Regular ELL user from Brockley says:

    The amazing thing is that people seem surprised the demand is there, as if it’s a surprise to TfL that there are real people living in South London…. on the ELL at least, the Overground is effectively acting a route into Zone 1 from SE London rather than an orbital and has accordingly high levels of demand. Planning for 8 carriages now wouldn’t seem unreasonable as I imagine demand will continue to rise (if the new flats being built at Brockley and Forest Hill is an indicator). If a sloping platform at CW is the answer, let’s do it. Seems a lesser risk than crushing passengers into 4 (or even 5) carriages.

    BTW you are incorrect that “North London Line passenger usage is already beginning to approach crush levels again, and the section of the ELL between Canada Water and New Cross Gate is also very busy in the morning peaks.” I can personally attest that crushing is already an issue between Brockley and Canada Water – passengers at NXG and Surrey Quays are regularly unable to board during morning rush.

    Interestingly the senior LO manager presenting the ELL work at the last Open House day appeared to wrongly believe that the Whitechapel-CW was the busiest section of the line. He obviously hadn’t witnessed the scenes at Canada Water each morning where 2/3rds of the passengers up from NXG empty on to the Jubilee Line, leaving northbound trains to go on with much lighter loadings. The graphic above seems more like it, albeit possibly an underestimate.

  22. Paul says:

    MJG @ 0158,

    The PIXC busters being referred to in the above article, that start next week, are to run between Surrey Quays and Dalston Jn only, at 0819 and 0834. They can be seen in the timetable as off pattern services, ie not part of th normal 12 tph (5 min headway).

    The 4 additional ELL paths are only available on the core section, they’ll become the SLL 4 tph eventually, so won’t affect the mainline route south of NXG.

    However the diagram above shows another 2 tph of peak services (hence the thinner line) from Crystal Palace to the ELL, which would bring the service on the core ELL up to a total 18 tph compared to the 16 tph planned with the SLL from Dec 2012. These have been mentioned before but are not yet allowed for in the mainline timetable, to the best of my knowledge.

    Unfortunately, to pour further cold water on your post, as far as I can tell no 5th cars have been tendered for yet, let alone ordered – and the lead time would be around 2 years…

  23. Sean Baggaley says:

    I’ve often wondered about the continued use of names and colours for lines in London. The current TfL map looks horrifically complicated and it’s not helped that tourists have a hard enough time pronouncing some of the line names. (There is no “J” in the Italian alphabet, for example: they pronounce that letter as a “Y” on the few loan words it appears in.)

    Personally, I think we’d save a lot of faff and bother by just renaming *every* line with letter-number combinations. E.g. “S-1a” for “Sub-surface line 1 a”— the current “Hammersmith & City” route, perhaps. “U-5a” could be the Northern Line’s Charing X route; “O-1” for, say, West Croydon services on the Overground, and so on. (The initial letters help with navigation at interchanges: a “U”—for “Underground”—line would likely be below an “O”—for “Overground”—line. (It also reduces the renumbering issue when existing routes are changed, or new routes are added. An SSL route change—e.g. the “T-cup” Circle Line—won’t affect the other systems, for example.)

    Rome does this. France does this. Why the hell does London have to be so bloody-minded? It’s not as if doing this would also erase every history book about the London Underground overnight. And it’d make tourists lives a hell of a lot easier.


    I’d love to see some solid statistics that back up the H&SE’s requirement for completely level platforms at all new-build stations. Keeping them straight, I can understand, but wheelchair users don’t need the whole damned platform to be 100% flat from end to end, surely?

  24. swirlythingy says:

    How did the New Cross spur become the second busiest stretch of line on weekdays, and the second emptiest on weekends?

    All those graphs strongly suggest that the lightest-loaded part of the ELL is in fact the new extension north of Whitechapel, and the bits people actually want to use are the bits which already existed before £1 billion was lavished on them. Yet, in Underground days, the ELL was a barely-used backwater. Maybe much the same increase in ridership could have been achieved for much less simply by building the NXG flyover and routing A stock down the London Bridge line?

  25. ChrisMitch says:

    City Thameslink has sloping (and very long) platforms – how long ago was that built?

    And @Sean – I hope no-one follows your recommendations. With all due respect to Italians, whether or not they can pronounce ‘Jubilee’ is not a good reason for scrapping all our line names. Names are usually better than numbers, as they are easier to memorise and recognise, and we LIKE the names! The Overground though could do with additional route identifiers to make it easier to identify the right train to board at stations with multiple routes.

  26. mr_jrt says:

    I do wonder why they built a new station at Canada Water rather than routing via Surrey Quays, or heaven forbid, Rotherhithe.

    Looking at the diagrams, I find it laughable that TfL argue that minor improvements (8-car Southern services, doubled in frequency & 5-car LO services) will be sufficient to manage the WLL capacity gap. It’s needs four-tracking, and in the immediate term the land needs reservation to do so later.

    Such a shame 8-cars will not be viable, it would make for an awesome service.

  27. alex says:

    “How did the New Cross spur become the second busiest stretch of line on weekdays, and the second emptiest on weekends?”

    I suspect its got a lot to do with Goldsmiths University. The ELL from Dalston/Shoreditch to New Cross often resembles a hipster fashion parade circa 9.30am

  28. DJB says:

    Seems a shame not to build the new Shepards Bush turn back at Wilesdon Junction, plenty of space to build it there and extend the platforms to eight car.

  29. Ben says:

    Echo ChrisMitch above; unless Sean youre being deliberately trollesque? 🙂 In which case why don’t we just rename everything to hyroglyphics, as a lot of countries don’t use the Latin alphabet? Or even just shapes…

    Numbers or letters would be a good addition for Overground services, as making up a glut of new names would most likely be either crindgeworthy or hopelessly drab, and the existing names are very WYSIWYG.

    Pedantic, both Wapping and Rotherhithe are (were once) slightly longer than 4 carriage. Not much with 20m carriages though….
    With regards to building a XR style station between the two… demolishing the Thames Tunnel through which the line runs would be in terms of engineering heritage the equivilant of aesthetics in the Euston Arch. Or rebuilding Ironbridge as some ghastly lop-sided 4 lane suspension. You may aswell build a new station box totally below, and its not much further from there that you start wondering why youre using any oll ELL infrastructure atall when you could build something new the whole length specifically for 8 carriages.

    Greg: Max platform gradients are apparently specified by legislation somewhere. One wonders just how backwards facing it is when the upshot can be to increase price of some schemes to such an extent they just dont happen.

  30. John says:

    @SeanB / ChrisM

    As a compromise, they could have numbers and names, for example in Singapore every station has had a alphanumeric code as well as a name; though the system is now a bit too complicated to decipher at first glance for a non-rail enthusiast tourist.

    You say that Paris and Rome do this, but they have always done so. Show me a metro which has switched from names to line numbers.

    Your point about the Jubilee pronunciation sidesteps the issue that very few languages use J in the same way that English does. In French you would need to write dj, German dsch, Dutch dzj, Hungarian dzs and Russian дж, but even if someone says yübilee or hoobilay, you would probably understand them.

  31. Patrickov says:

    swirlythingy: IMO if TfL/ LUL (as well as their predecessors and / or contractors in this case) had thought that 4th-railing the line down to West Croydon and Crystal Palace was a cost-effective option, they would have happily built the extension that way.

  32. MJG says:

    Regular @8.01pm – couldn’t agree more. I am one of those who find that every week it becomes more difficult to get on a train at NXG.

    Paul @ 8.57pm – Yes, you are right. I was more out of hope than anything… Capacity from NXG to Canada Water is already a serious issue – and it’s not like the NXG to London Bridge service is any quieter so the new line really has generated a lot of new traffic. And with LB being seriously mucked around with over the next few years I’m not expecting it to get any better…

  33. John says:

    By the way, a 10-minute service is NOT a turn up and go, but the bus service is not necessarily any better. A bus might be scheduled every 6-10 mins but sometimes doesn’t come for 20, and would take twice as long as the train (but you wouldn’t necessarily know how long in advance). If you’re in a rush to leave the house, you don’t have time to check the TfL bus tracker, but if you know approximately what time the train is meant to come, you can plan a bit better. And when the train generally costs 10p more than the bus (Shoreditch HS notwithstanding), or if you have a travelcard, you aren’t really saving money.

  34. Herman says:

    Sean, you don’t understand. In Britain everyone stoops to the lowest common denominator rather than just providing extra help when someone needs it. Notice that on a bus the wheelchair always gets on first, even though the driver could let everyone else off first before lowering the ramp.

  35. Greg Tingey says:

    A re-introduction of ex-SR-style headcodes would be of enormous benefit to everyone.
    Which is, of course, why ATOC won’t do it …..
    As for platform gradients, this is the sort of thing where one can always get “special exemptions” provided someone is prepared to jump through hoops.
    See the article about the rolling-back of the “disability taliban” in the current issue of Modern Railways as an example.
    The comments about suppression of potential services is well-taken – I refer you back to my earlier comments on the silly loadings on peak-hour GOBLIN services.;
    That line has really got to be electrified, and extended …..

  36. Fandroid says:

    alex. Interesting comment about Goldsmith’s University. Here in the UK we don’t seem to appreciate what huge traffic can be generated by big education institutions. I use University station in Birmingham quite frequently, and it is so crammed in the evening peak as to be positively frightening. The trains (3 car) are equally stuffed (in both directions). Anyone who has done the bus journey down the Oxford Road/ Wilmslow Road in Manchester can verify that, despite zillions of buses of all colours and companies, the services are crowded all day long. The big mystery there is why that route is on no-one’s plans for a future Metrolink tram line. London folk are used to crowded public transport but the other UK big cities are suffering in their own ways, and the capital is relatively lucky that it gets the enormous amount of transport investment that it does. Not that I think that there should be less investment!

  37. CM says:

    Italians have the letter G, which is enough. And frankly, our system should be built for Londoners in mind first, not purely for the benefit of tourists and the Olympics!

    – 5 car trains need to come in asap on the NLL, ELL and WLL.
    – ELL extension westbound needs to be investigated if there is spare capacity – at minimum to Camden Road and then evaluate from there.
    – Peak busters need to come in asap, and be made permanent. Only when people never need to look at a timetable will they abandon cars and also buses, clearing our roads and allowing buses to feed trains rather than duplicate them.

    – Evening (M-Su) services are appalling, frequency-wise, on the NLL and WLL. These need to be improved a lot.

    – GOBLIN needs wires, longer trains and integrating into the wider network. With 4-5 cars, this could take somer new interchanges (Tufnell Park) which would help to publicise it as a viable option to the North Circular, for example! And platforms at GO and Barking obviously.

  38. Chris M says:

    @Ben. I wasn’t suggesting a double-ended station between Wapping and Rotherhithe, I was suggesting one between Rotherhithe and Canada Water.
    The tunnel itself would not need to be touched (and having had opportunity to walk through it, I’m glad it’s preserved), but the approach to it would potentially need to be reprofiled. Is there any reason why the platforms at Surrey Quays couldn’t be lowered to reduce any gradient issues?

  39. Lazarus says:

    As a regular user of the NLL line between West Hampstead and Gunnersbury and an irregular user aast from West Hampstead I only feel qualified to comment on these services.

    Overall the service has been transformed over the last few years, but it is still a long way from being a turn up and go, especially if you are heading south beyond Willesden Junction, where it becomes 2 trains an hour to Clapham and 4 per hour at irregular intervals (10 and 20 min) to Richmond. Adding an extra carriage will be welcome, but it is frequency that needs to be addressed, and late night services (the last train going beyond Willesden leaves Gunnersbury at 11.06 pm).

    The biggest barrier to increased frequency is freight, closely followed by infrastructure. The new chord in Ipswich and gauge enhancement between Ipswich and the Midlands via Ely and Peterborough will free some paths, and electrification and bridge strengthening between Gospel Oak and Barking will also free up capacilty.

    To really maximise capacity the NLL needs to have freight free dedicated tracks with grade separated junctions between Dalston and Willesden. It would cost big bucks to achieve this, but entirely possible.

    Between Dalston Junction and Camden Road:

    – Putting the freight back on the northern pair of tracks from Dalston, separated from the Overground Tracks east of the junction, and returning the southbound pair of tracks to through running at Highbury and Islington.
    – Switching the Overground and freight lines by means of a flyover in the vicinity of Belle Isle.
    – Bringing the northern pair of platforms back into use at Camden Road.
    – Doubling the pinch point at Camden Road Junction with a new bridge over Camden Street.

    This allows freight a non conflicting route between Stratford and the WCML and the Overground sole use of a pair of tracks to increase frequencies. Highbury terminators on the Overground would need to find somewhere new to turn round, but since the idea is to increase capacity they should be extended onwards, maybe to Willesden low level via Primrose Hill, or up to Finsbury Park via Canonbury curve (although this would mean switching the Overground and freight lines further east).

    Between Camden Road and Gospel Oak the railway is on a brick viaduct and hemmed in on both sides by commercial and residential property. Widening to four tracks would be hugely expensive and extremely unpopular. Fortunately there is an alternative: electrify Goblin and send freight that way. Camden Road-Gospel Oak then becomes dedicated to Overground.

    From Gospel Oak to Willesden Junction is highly problematical, requiring a second Hampstead tunnel and widening over a stretch of line including viaducts, overbridges and 5 stations all of which would need rebuilding. However, from the vicinity of Finchley Road and Frognal to Willesden there is a different, lightly used freight line that could be brought into play: the Up and Down Hendon lines on the MML as far as Cricklewood, the Cricklewood Curve, and the Acton Branch (sometimes known as the Dudding Hill line) to Willesden. There is no avoiding a second Hampstead Tunnel, but it could be driven from east of Gospel Oak to emerge onto the Up and Down Hendon lines east of West Hampstead.

    Like I said, it would take a huge amount of money, but it could be done and would allow the WLL/NLL/ELL core between Willesden and Dalston to have metro like capacity and frequencies.

  40. Lazarus says:

    Sorry, that should say “an irregular user east from West Hampstead”

  41. Paul says:

    DJB @ 1206

    I think Shepherds Bush is the current turnback for SN peak extras, and also for the proposed extra services, because it allows normal DC stock to be used, rather than having to employ dual voltage stock to deal with one extra stop.

    That might change in the future as more dual voltage stock becomes available to SN following the new Thameslink trains arrival…

  42. 1956 says:

    Re: Lazarus
    ” Putting the freight back on the northern pair of tracks from Dalston, separated from the Overground Tracks east of the junction, and returning the southbound pair of tracks to through running at Highbury and Islington”.

    Not sure this part of your suggestion would work. Wouldn’t there be capacity issues (even more than that caused by freight) in squeezing both the ELL and NLL onto one pair of tracks? In addition, a delay on one line (eg NLL) would cause delays on the other (ELL). At present they are two seperate railways – power on ELL is 3rd Rail and on NLL is overhead. Also what would you do with Freights between Dalston Kingsland and Stratford?

    Extending to Willesden low level via Primrose Hill is feasible (need some 3rd rail re-instatement plus a return to 4 tracking around Camden Road) , but sending trains from the Southern tracks at Canonbury up to Finsbury Park via Canonbury curve (by switching the Overground and freight lines West of Canonbury station) would be extremely complex.

  43. CM says:

    Gunnersbury station itself needs blowing up and starting again. It’s a hostile horrible environment, and having worked there before, is hugely busy in the peaks.

    The Richmond branch is now the poor relation, perhaps of the whole of LO. No real improvements except the universal 378s for many years. It’s not even a round 4tph anymore.

    They should bring this back at least, and extend all WLL to Stratford, giving 8tph offpeak/weekend as in peak.

  44. mr_jrt says:

    My proposals are:

    Widening the viaduct west of Camden Road, and thence extending the ELL to Watford Junction, with the NLL running over the northern pair of tracks. The NLL gets to stay AC, and the ELL gets to connect to the only significant bit of 3rd rail north of London.

    The problem with it is that it leaves the freight with nowhere to go, squeezed out by the metro services now possible on the Camden Road-Dalston section. To that I’d suggest a massive upgrade on the Goblin, with alterations made to enable freight from the GEML to access it directly, eliminating the need for freight to run via Stratford. In itself, that’s not ideal, as the Goblin will increase in demand as well, but it buys time for something drastic to get the freight out of London entirely.

    Ideally the entire southern region gets converted to AC to solve all these arbitrary boundary interface problems…but failing that, perhaps there’s an argument for platforms at Willesden Junction on the WLL-WCML lines, and the DC could then be re-extended back there?

    …as I said above, the WLL needs four tracks, end-of. Willesden to north of Shepard Bush is easy enough, and Olympia to the former Chelsea & Fulham station is viable thanks to the Earls Court redevelopment, but Imperial Wharf would take major embankment works, and constructing a new bridge is almost certainly a no-go. The Holland Park roundabout getting a rebuild would remove the only major obstruction.

    If LO took over the outer SLL services as well, then that further relives London Bridge, and these could then be tacked onto the WLL services at Clapham Junction, removing the pressure on LO’s platforms (1), 2a and 2b.

    Prospectively, you could extend from Clapham Junction via East Putney to Wimbledon…but you have some widening works to solve through Wandsworth Town. There are plenty of redundant sidings et al along the route to make this easier than it at first appears though.

    …and finally, something could be done at the southern ends.

    If it were to reach Wimbledon, then it would be terminating at both ends of a Tramlink line that is experiencing massive growth. Perhaps there’s an option there for the future. Also, If the Tattenham Corner and Catterham branches were brought into the fold, that would be useful, as it would provide LO with better links to East Croydon.

  45. Djb says:

    Would it not be easier to build a freight tunnel from the end of the Goblin to Primrose Hill, rather than widen the NLL? Would be shorter than a second tunnel between Hamstead and Frognal and you wouldn’t have any of the other widening costs.

    Connecting the ELL to the Watford DC line seems an easy option for creating more east-west capacity, you can have turn back at the Wilsdon Junction bay platforms and also just before Camdon at Maiden Lane which could be rebuilt as a station. That just leaves reopening Primrose Hill to complete the line.

    In the south would extending from Crystal Palace to Wimbeldon be an option? Would seem to only require a new cord at West Norwood Junction.

  46. timbeau says:

    On the Southern, Headcodes were very useful, and were recognised by many in the same way bus route numbers are. two characters can be read from a lot further than a destination, and can say a lot more. Remember that all “up” trains on SWT simply say “Waterloo” on the front: I know it’s going to Waterloo – what I want to know is where else it’s calling on the way!

  47. upthejunction says:

    Something that seems to be totally overlooked by transport planners is the fact that London Midland trains zoom (sorry, judder slowly) through Willesden Jcn. Peak hour overcrowding on the Harrow-Clapham route is reaching crisis point, mainly as Southern run an hourly (yes, *hourly*) service and commuters pack on board for a relatively rapid, but uncomfortable transfer across London. If LM Euston trains could stop at WJ, it would open up the possibility of an interchange from LO to LM and ‘oil the wheels’ of passenger movement a bit. It would of course require construction of new platforms at WJ and some serious rebuilding of the whole site. Try out Shepherd’s Bush at 5:30pm. Tiny station built with Westfield money that was too small at the first attempt and is still not fit for purpose. How long before someone falls under a train?

  48. John says:

    The overcrowding on the northbound service up to Canada Water needs urgent attention.
    Not only is is train capacity insufficient during the morning rush hour as others have pointed out, but the northbound interchange at Canada Water is likely to become dangerously overcrowded in the near future.
    I was baffled when the line reopened to see that only two escalators (and no staircase) had been installed between the LO and LU platforms. One small lift goes between the ticket hall and the LO platforms with a second small lift between the ticket hall and the LU platforms.

  49. Anonymous says:

    It is not unusual for me to have to let several Sutton-bound trains go at Clapham Junction before the one using the route I need, and all from the same platform. Never yet have I been confused or made a mistake so I am surprised it is such a problem for others.

    To me the difference between “Clapham Junction via Peckham Rye” and “Clapham Junction via Willesden Junction” is not only sufficient, it is far more meaningful and easy to understand than totally arbitrary names like O-1 or the Elizabeth line.

    Does anyone actually even use route numbers on Tramlink? I have always navigated it using the destination and could not even tell you which number goes where.

    As for tourists, if they are using the Overground then they are in a minority not travelling from or within central London so I think they will be savvy enough to know where they are going. But if they are going to have to lookup the name for the route they need, because it has no other relationship with their journey, then a destination with optional via-point is no worse a method but in some ways better.

  50. SELondoner says:

    I have to say that interesting as the figures generally are, I don’t believe the 2007 Canada Water usage figure; living between Rotherhithe and Canada Water and being a regular user of both, Canada Water was unquestionably busier than Rotherhithe previously. I have to wonder if there’s an error in those figures, for example if only those travelling between the ELL and the street were captured and not those interchanging with the Jubilee line.

    Re: the lack of interchange capacity at Canada Water (John 04:25), you have to remember that no reconstruction was done at CW, and the interchange capacity is based on the old ELL numbers. It certainly is busy, one thing considered has been running both escalators down in the morning (so anyone changing Jubilee to ELL n/b would have to go via the ticket hall level).

    My main bugbear with the Overground is the very early last train times. Previously the ELL ran until about 0100, but now the last trains are nearer 0000 (obviously this is approximate and different at every station!). Every time I travel home late I see many people arriving at Canada Water seeking to travel on the Overground but finding the last trains have gone. Often these are women on their own and under the influence of alcohol who find themselves stranded here. I know it’s up to people to check their train times but the Overground encourages “turn up and go” and people expect it to run as late as the tube does (and indeed there were promises that the trains would run as late as the ELL, a promise which has been broken).

    Given the poor alternatives, especially across the Thames, this is really pretty poor and does let down the other good work on the line upgrade. They also fail to run very extensive services at Christmas, for example it’s closing down around 21:30 on Xmas Eve and very few extra trains on New Year’s Eve, which will spoil many people’s journeys home, and not running at all on Boxing Day, whereas the tube and bus networks will be running pretty comprehensive services.

  51. SELondoner says:

    PS I fully agree with line numbering, RER Paris-style. So each main line would have a letter (e.g. Line A for the East London services), so if travelling on the core (e.g. H&I to Canada Water) all you need to know is it’s a southbound A train. Then add a number for the service, e.g. 2 for H&I to West Croydon. So if heading for Croydon you need to head for the southbound Line A platform, then board the A2 train, letting an A1 (to New Cross) or an A3 (to Crystal Palace) go.

  52. Greg Tingey says:

    Paris RER lignes are “Crossrail” equivalents.
    So the Frenchj have 4.5 of these, and in 7 years time, we’ll have 2!
    The Metro Lignes are NUMBERED.
    They seem, finally, to be heading towards a uniform colour-coding.
    I wonder if “tubemap”s entry for a new PROPER Metro map will win?

  53. Babs says:

    +1 for John here. The interchange between the ELL and the Jubilee at Canada Water in the morning peak really needs looking at. It’s usually quicker (and a hell of a lot more pleasant) to get on the front of the train, take the escalator up to ticket-hall level, then two escalators down to the Jubilee platforms, than it is to get on the rear of the train and exit in the way the designers intended. Must be something they can do…

  54. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect to Howard Smith and all TfL is doing with rail, this comment:

    ‘For some reason it doesn’t matter if an area has buses every two minutes,” He commented on the subject when we visited the ELLX2 site back in July, “People still feel disconnected – as if that service could be taken away at any time. Stick some track down and put a train on it every 15 minutes though and they’ll start using it. There’s something special about the Permanent Way that feels so… well… permanent.”’

    has to be that of someone how never uses a bus. As a south Londoner who now has the ELLX1 as an alternative to a bus, let me assure you there ain’t no competition at anything like peak times.

    The bus frequency may be in a different league, but then so is the road congestion. The permanent way does not get locked into traffic jams which lengthen journey times by factors of two or three or even more. Buses, of course, do.

    So there may well be a bus every two minutes. But all it does once you get on it is crawl along behind the previous bus.

    It’s not that people feel disconnected. It’s that they ARE disconnected.

  55. Anonymous says:

    “has to be that of someone how never uses a bus. As a south Londoner who now has the ELLX1 as an alternative to a bus, let me assure you there ain’t no competition at anything like peak times.”

    Where I live in south London there are two railway stations, yet at peak times more people prefer a 20 minute ride on a congested and crowded bus to the tube station than a much quicker but even more crowded train.

  56. Anonymous says:

    With all buses now easily tracked it would be useful to find out actual travelling times for bus journeys in congested road travel areas at peak times. As I’m someone who, for work, routinely spends several hours at a time on different bus routes I tend to find serious delay from congestion much less than the perception.

  57. Martin Phillp says:

    A few various comments about the ELL since it launched south of New Cross Gate.

    Since the line launched, my mother now uses the ELL as an alternative to the 197 bus which takes 45 mins to get from Forest Hill to Croydon, plus the incentive of a cheaper Oyster fare compared to the NR fare to East Croydon.

    Ironically, the Southern trains to London Bridge are much quieter as mentioned in the report and as of today, 10 car trains are now running during the peaks after platforms were extended in the autumn, now why didn’t Network Rail/Railtrack think of this before the ELL extension beggars belief?

    However, we were promised a ‘tube style service’ by TfL in 2010, while this is true during the day, during late evenings, the frequency suddenly switches to 4tph with a service pattern of a 20 min gap, then a ten min between services to stations as far as Sydenham. As you can imagine, Canada Water after 10pm gets crowded when pax wait 20 mins and my own personal experience, I try and sync my Jubilee line exit to connect with a ELL service.

    Also 2356 from Canada Water is the final through service to stations south of New Cross Gate. After this time, LOROL provide three trains to New Cross Gate, which connect with the final Southern services from London Bridge. However this isn’t practical to expect pax to wait at a cold NXG platform in the winter, nor safe enough. Once I missed the 2356 by two minutes and decided to board the final Southern train at London Bridge, where I felt safer there than wait for a NXG train. Paying £3.20 instead of £2.50 just to feel safe.

  58. Anon256 says:

    What was the frequency on the what are now the Overground lines historically (in the BR days or even earlier)? I am trying to make a series of maps showing transport in London over time as I did for New York and other cities, but want to include all local services running 3 tph or better at midday, which today includes Overground as well as many lines in South London. Does anyone know where I could find information on historic service frequencies? So far I have only been able to include Underground lines. Thanks.

  59. Greg Tingey says:

    Is NXG really that unsafe?

    How many people have been hurt or assulted or robbedat that station in the past year?
    What are the real numbers, rather than an apprehensive perception…..
    If the figure is zero, then what are you bothered about?

  60. Fandroid says:

    Greg, perception is everything. If passengers feel unsafe, then that is totally true for them, and the brave and the bold among us should respect that.

  61. Anonymous says:

    “has to be that of someone how never uses a bus. As a south Londoner who now has the ELLX1 as an alternative to a bus, let me assure you there ain’t no competition at anything like peak times.”
    Where I live in south London there are two railway stations, yet at peak times more people prefer a 20 minute ride on a congested and crowded bus to the tube station than a much quicker but even more crowded train.

    That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Tube services are (H and City apart) much higher frequency than most (obviously not all) train services, and much more regular/clockwork too. Add in the better interconnections between lines (granted, not everywhere) and I’d be heading for the Tube on the bus if I could reach one on a bus.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Fandroid but Greg has a point. False perceptions are fuelled in large part by the spreading of misinformation, if that is the case here.

    It would never have occurred to me that the platforms of New Cross Gate were unsafe at night, but having read Martin’s comment that perception is now in my head. It is based on fact, fair enough, we are better informed. If it is not then he has spread needless fear and panic.

    I do not know what is the case, but Greg has every right to question its validity.

  63. Martin Phillp says:

    First of all, I’m not trying to spread false rumour about the safety of New Cross Gate, yet compared to Canada Water or London Bridge. It’s exposed to the elements, no visible staff presence at that time of night on the platforms and a wait of 30 mins for the last Southern service after missing the final through ELL.

    Imagine it’s a cold December night and you’ve just missed the 2356 service from Canada Water, do you wait for the next LO to NXG and wait in the cold or go to London Bridge where you can wait on a class 455 train which is warm and safe?

    The point is that despite Greg’s alpha male musings, there are reasons why LOROL should run later services on the West Croydon/Crystal Palace branches instead of passengers waiting at New Cross Gate until 0041. After all we we promised a tube style service and yet the ELL closes early than Southern!

  64. Greg Tingey says:

    “Alpha-male” codswallop!
    Speaking as a 65-year old, who is only alive because (in 1975) the NHS poured more blood into me than I had to start with, I’m very aware of these things.
    However, If you’d said, say, “Finsbury Park” – I’d have agreed with you – somone unsucessfully tried to pick my pocket there, and on another occasion, a friend was unprovokedly assaulted.
    But, the question was:
    “What are the REAL, as opposed to the IMAGINED numbers?”
    Sorry, but my laboratory/engineering training cuts in when these sorts of assertions are made.

    Partially off-topic, but highly relevant:
    Croxley Link Approved!

    Now, what will LUL/Loo-Roll do now?
    Given that Surface/tube trains will be running into WJ anyway ….
    Time to put the 4th rail Harrow WJ back?
    Time to withdraw Euston S. Hampstead?
    Time to re-open S. Hampstead – Primrose Hill – Camden Road?


  65. Rapidtransitman says:

    @ Greg Tingey
    Definitely time to re-open S. Hampstead – Primrose Hill – Camden Road. Stations are still there AFAIK. Improved mobility for little cost.

  66. 1956 says:

    I agree with opening S. Hampstead – Primrose Hill – Camden Road but regretfully cannot agree with “little cost”. I think the Camden Road 4-tracking is a possibility for 2013-14 (any London Reconnections readers know more?) I guess the bridge / viaduct works over Kentish Town Rd and Castlehaven Rd would be expensive,

    The other challenge would be fitting a decent amount of train paths into Camden Road to Stratford (and vice versa) once the trains get there to and from Primrose Hill.

  67. Fandroid says:

    Passing through Clapham Junction today in mid-afternoon in my nice comfortable class 444, I couldn’t help but notice the big crowds on the Overground WLL platform. Far more than on any other CJ platform at that hour. It has been noticeable recently how many people are using the Overground from CJ. Methinks that TfL need to get that WLL frequency up to 4TPH sooner rather than later. Mere PIXC busters will only be playing with the problem.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Already are 4 TfLs plus 1 southern off peak

  69. ChrisMitch says:

    The Southern trains from CJ to Olympia go from a different platform at the opposite end of the station – hardly convenient.

  70. Rapidtransitman says:


    I stand corrected. ‘Relatively’ little cost for improved mobility.

  71. Fandroid says:

    Wow Anonymous, it was really a fairly large crowd milling around on that CJ platform at around 15.00 on a Wednesday. With 4 tph already , I dread to think what the peaks must be like !

  72. ChrisMitch says:

    It is very crowded indeed during the peaks. Not much personal space on those trains!

  73. timbeau says:

    Not much or primrose Hill station left now, sadly!

  74. Delenn says:

    Where is the news story about Croxley? Unexpected and all quite exciting.
    Only 5 years to get a visit in to the old Watford station whilst it is still open.

  75. Fandroid says:

    The only story on Croxley that I can find is on a press release dated 14 Dec on the DfT website. There is no detail, beyond quoting the total cost – £155m I think.

  76. Fandroid says:

    Sorry – fumblefingers again. The total cost for the Croxley link is given as £115.9m

  77. mrbasedata says:

    Martin Phillp (07:41PM, 12th December 2011) raises a good point. We were promised Tube-style services and that’s lacking from New Cross Gate to Crystal Palace/West Croydon on late services.

    The last trains from London Bridge are often crowded. I think the drop to sub-10 minute late night timetabling (taking into account one route to New Cross (and Clapham Junction in the future)) on the ELL isn’t what most people consider a Tube service.

    New Cross Gate isn’t the warmest place in winter to wait at, especially at night, if continuing south!

    Equally, I find the early morning services from West Corydon and Crystal Palace are often crowded despite the good use of Tube-style seating.

    Finally, I am very disappointed with the Christmas services as now I have no rail service on Boxing Day. I had hoped TfL wouldn’t follow the other rail companies stance of no services. Ho ho hum! At least we have it…

  78. mikkiangelo says:

    I’d just like to add a couple of points to the discussion…

    The Barking – Gospel Oak Line User Group have been campaigning for years not just for the GOBLin to be electrified with an improved service, but for the service to be extended beyond GO to Willesden Jct and thence take over the current WLL shuttle to CJ.

    As to the diversion of the Euston slow lines onto the NLL via Primrose Hill, the last time this was mooted, it caused so much fuss with users of the line in places such as Wembley and Harrow, the local MP’s saw fit to go into bat on their behalf to stop this happening. Some people have suggested piping the lines into Crossrail, but I can’t see that solvin the problem as it would take passeners towards the West End, which the Bakerloo already does, when they really seem to want to go towards the “North Quarter”.

  79. Simon, First Capital Connect user says:

    @ Lazarus ‘Highbury terminators on the Overground would need to find somewhere new to turn round, but since the idea is to increase capacity they should be extended onwards, maybe to Willesden low level via Primrose Hill, or up to Finsbury Park via Canonbury curve (although this would mean switching the Overground and freight lines further east)’.

    Extending to Finsbury Park, even if it were not financially prohibitive, would create the following issues:
    1. ELL passengers wanting to access the southbound Victoria Line would find it nonsensical to have their train call at Canonbury and then, less than a minute away from Highbury, curve off to serve Finsbury Park instead. Journey times would be disproportionately extended and a sensible interchange lost.
    2. Where would LOROL services via Finsbury Park turn around once they got there ? They could hardly cross the ECML on the flat in order to make the trip back to Canonbury, and I would doubt there are sufficient available paths to run to, say, Hornsey and make use of the flyover there (to gain access to the up slow line).

    That perhaps leaves London Overgound taking over the inner suburban lines to Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North as they only solution, but that itself would be extremely unattractive to commuters, for two reasons: a direct line into Moorgate would be lost, as would a direct link to Highbury (and simple cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line too).

  80. Andrey says:

    > Show me a metro which has switched from names to line numbers.

    St. Petersburg is one example.

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